Bulgarian Weddings

Ancient engagement rites are still practiced in Bulgaria today. There have been very minimal changes in its traditions. In a traditional Bulgarian engagement, the bride’s agreement is required. The groom does not go to the potential bride’s house. Instead, he asks a friend to go there and ask for the blessing. The decision lies on the hands of the would-be-bride even though her father may have already agreed. Her father asks her three times if she would like to marry the man. If the girl answers “yes” on all the three questions, then, she is pre-engaged. Only then is the groom invited to the girl’s house.

An engagement feast is held where relatives and neighbors are invited to join. The engagement feast has to fall on a Sunday or a holiday. During the feast, guests discuss the wedding. They will make agreements on certain things about the marriage. The couple may be engaged for a day, a year or a couple of years.

A traditional Bulgarian wedding is held on a Sunday. The Thursday before the wedding, the bride’s mother does a ritual kneading of the bread. When the dough is risen, it symbolizes the new family that has emerged.

The chosen best man must make a wedding banner. There are requirements in making this banner. First, the pole must be from a fruit-bearing tree and it must be 6 feet tall. It must also be chopped down with only one single stroke. At the top of the pole, an apple or an onion wrapped in foil is pierced. There must also be a hand-woven handkerchief attached to the pole with ribbons, ivy, and strings of popcorn.

On the morning of the wedding, the groom’s family and friends gather at his house and pour barley at him and fire gun shots to make evil spirits go away. The best man and maid of honor lead the procession to the bride’s house. They are to honor her with wine, veil, and candles. The procession from the bride’s house to the church is very cheerful. There is dancing, fireworks and drums.

When the couple reaches the church, they make their first step with their right foot. This is considered good luck in Bulgarian culture. The marriage ceremony begins. It is short but it many folk songs are performed. The couple exchanges rings and kiss. The sponsors sign the official wedding papers. After that, the “stepping” is performed by the newlyweds. Whoever steps on the other’s foot first will be the one to dominate the family.

Another procession is held, this time it is leading to the groom’s house for the reception. When the couple enters the house, flowers are thrown at them. This is done to wish the couple health, happiness and purity.

Copyright 2005, Andrea R Britt. All rights reserved.